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Cultivating Research Skills to Promote Pediatric-Scientist Development

Sunday, August 4, 2019
Jillian Hurst, PhD

Physician-scientists represent a critical component of the biomedical and health research workforce. However, the proportion of physicians who spend a significant amount of effort on scientific research has declined over the past 40 years. This trend has been particularly noticeable in pediatrics despite recent scientific work revealing that early life influences, exposures, and health status play a significant role in lifelong health and disease. To address this problem, the Duke University Department of Pediatrics developed the Duke Pediatric Research Scholars Program for Physician-Scientist Development (DPRS). The DPRS is focused on research training during pediatric residency and fellowship. The program aims to provide sufficient research exposure and support to help scholars develop a research niche and scholarly products as well as identify the career pathways that will enable them to achieve their research goals. In an article published in Pediatrics on July 30, 2019, Duke researchers, including lead author, Jillian Hurst, PhD, and colleagues,* describe the DPRS’s organizational structure, core components, recruitment strategies, and initial results, and they discuss implementation challenges and solutions. Additionally, the article details the program’s integration with the department’s residency and fellowship training programs (with particular reference to the challenges of integrating research into small- to medium-sized residency programs) and describe the development and integration of related initiatives across Duke University School of Medicine. The program served as the basis for 2 successful National Institutes of Health Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (R38) applications, and the authors hope it will serve as a model to integrate formalized research training for residents and fellows who wish to pursue research careers in academic medicine.

*Jillian H. Hurst, PhD; Katherine J. Barrett, MA; Matthew S. Kelly, MD, MPH; Betty B. Staples, MD; Kathleen A. McGann, MD; Coleen K. Cunningham, MD; Ann M. Reed, MD; Rasheed A. Gbadegesin, MD, MBBS; and Sallie R. Permar, MD, PhD